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06 / 04 / 2015
  - 09:56:15 AM
Getting the Most Out of Your Yard Sale

Although planning and running a yard sale take up a lot of time, you don’t have pay anyone a commission on the money you make. But before you post signs, call your town’s government office to see whether you are required to get a permit to hold a sale. If you do, it will probably cost only a few dollars, but the cost of a fine for neglecting to get one could wipe out your profits. Also ask whether there are restrictions on where you can post signs to your sale.

Sell what's in demand

Just about anything that’s not precious enough to put in an auction, consignment shop, or online—including broken items—is fair game. “People often buy things for parts at garage sales, especially broken electronics,” says Lynda Hammond, author of “Garage Sale Gal’s Guide to Making Money Off Your Stuff” (Gibbs Smith, 2011).

Maximize your return

Don’t price anything. Figuring out what to charge is the most time-consuming and stressful part of garage sales, says Hammond. Ask buyers for their best offer; they will often name a price that’s higher than the one you would have suggested. “I had a friend who wanted to get rid of a dining room table and chairs and was going to put a $150 price tag on it before I convinced her not to,” says Hammond. “A man at her sale told her he only had $400 on him for the set; she was so flustered she talked him down to $300.”

If people seem too shy to negotiate, then you can name a price. To get an idea of appropriate valuation, check out It aggregates pricing data from online auction sites such as eBay and classified sites such as Craigslist on hundreds of thousands of used products, including small appliances, bicycles, cell phones, computers and accessories, musical instruments, photo and video equipment, sporting goods, and video games.

Make enough directional signs to attract people to your house from major routes. Hammond suggests using signs no bigger than 15x15 inches that simply say “Sale” and have an arrow pointing the way.

Get the word out. You can place free classified ads on websites such as Craigslist, eBay Classifieds, GarageSaleHunter, YardSaleSearch and WMRC Daily Make sure you mention the categories of items you’ll be selling. Also post information about your sale on social-media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Go through your stuff. There’s a good chance you’ve forgotten about a $20 bill you slipped into a jacket pocket or keepsakes you stashed in drawers.

Start on Thursday or Friday.  And start early—say, 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.—to ensure that you’ll get the going-to-work and driving-the-kids-to-school crowd. “You’ll have few other sales to compete with, and you’ll get serious shoppers,” Hammond says. You can always continue the sale during the weekend if you have items left to sell.

Be friendly. People are less likely to buy from someone who is reading a book or talking on the phone, and more likely to buy if you greet them and are available to answer questions and negotiate.

Think about security. Keep your house locked during your sale, and keep your money and a phone with you at all times. People toting counterfeit bills sometimes turn up at garage sales, so turn down payments in big bills.

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